SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — A Sacramento school district is weighing its options on what to do about controversial videos showing two of its students in blackface and one of them using racial slurs.
Two videos surfaced this week showing two students from McClatchy High School in different states of blackface using the N-word on social media.
In the first video a teenage boy in blackface approaching a bird cage before turning to say, “I don’t think this bird likes n—–s.”
The second shows a teenage girl and the boy from the first video in even darker blackface. He says “Hi, n—–,” in a flirtatious tone and she giggles.
There is an outcry to punish the students, but the Sacramento City Unified School District may not have many options and could open itself to legal problems with the wrong approach.
A district spokesman says parents of the students have been contacted and they’re weighing their options. The superintendent says the use of racially offensive language or behavior doesn’t reflect the district’s values.
Sacramento NAACP President Betty Williams says black students have complained in the past about their treatment on campus and she believes it’s the culture of the school that made the students feel the videos were OK.
It’s not the first time McClatchy High students have been tied to racially offensive actions. In February, a McClatchy High School student presented a science project that concluded the racial disparities school’s Humanitarian and International Studies Program was justified because the IQ of minorities was lower.
But that was an event that happened on the school campus during a school activity, which doesn’t appear to be the case with the videos that surfaced this week. School isn’t in session until Aug. 30. Since the students weren’t using the district’s social media accounts either, legal experts say it’s hard for the district to do anything.
“If there’s no connection to the school that you can draw, the school is not liable,” said attorney Ken Rosenfeld.
But, he says, the parents could face repercussions.
“If it’s directed toward someone or is hate speech, the parents can find themselves legally responsible,” he said.
There is no question the video is disturbing in Rosenfeld’s opinion, but he adds the district needs to be careful with what action it takes.
“It would actually be harassment of the students who made the video if the district were to overstep and get involved in a matter that should be handled at home.”